Squad Layout: SAW vs Crew-Served Machine Gun?

Sep 2012
1,022
Tarkington, Texas
#22
3rdLargest. Thank you for your service. The 1000 yards quoted is usually meant as the distance from hilltop to hilltop in Afghanistan. No matter the exact measurement, the M249 was seen to hit the ground well before it hit an Afghan Sangar. An Afghan firing an old Lee Enfield could reach out and touch American troops trying to get at him.

Pruitt
 

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,629
USA
#23
SAW obviously. Crew served should be on the be in dedicated weapons units.

3rdLargest. Thank you for your service. The 1000 yards quoted is usually meant as the distance from hilltop to hilltop in Afghanistan. No matter the exact measurement, the M249 was seen to hit the ground well before it hit an Afghan Sangar. An Afghan firing an old Lee Enfield could reach out and touch American troops trying to get at him.

Pruitt
The is rather pop-news than anything. Hitting targets out to 1000 meters with a non-scoped rifle in battfield conditions is laughable. The Tablian may try but they would at best probably just make troops duck and cover. Marines at Bellau Wood in WW1 waited till the enemy closed to ~100 meters.
 
Jul 2016
9,307
USA
#24
3rdLargest. Thank you for your service. The 1000 yards quoted is usually meant as the distance from hilltop to hilltop in Afghanistan. No matter the exact measurement, the M249 was seen to hit the ground well before it hit an Afghan Sangar. An Afghan firing an old Lee Enfield could reach out and touch American troops trying to get at him.Pruitt
For a bolt action rifle to hit point targets accurately out to 1,000 yards is far beyond the skill set of anyone. At best, it would deliver long range area fire, and that assumes they got their range estimation perfectly correct, because being off by only 10-20 yards means way short or way long.

The M249 can reach out to 1,000 yards. Its issue at long range isn't that it can't reach reach the range (its max range is 5000 yds), but that it goes transonic at about 800 yards and then subsonic at 900. What that means is the round loses its stability and will often begin tumbling in air (losing accuracy), or it will not land with sufficient force to create violent wounds (like those at shorter ranges), or be able penentrate barriers. But if it hits flesh, it still kills. And the sights still can go out to 1,000 yds, be they the standard sights on the M249, or else an ACOG which has ballistics reticle with a stadia line for that range. It wouldn't be great, but it can still kill, still suppress. The main issue is at that range even finding a target, getting a good range on it, knowing the effects of wind, and having a really solid position allowing for as little muzzle rise as possible while firing short bursts.

Additionally, because Afghanistan mountains are high up and well above sea level, it means less air resistance and thus it takes even longer for the bullet to lose velocity. For instance, at 3,000 feet of elevation, the M249 is still supersonic at 1,000 yds.
 
Jul 2016
9,307
USA
#25
M-14's failed as a SAW because the weapon is almost uncontrollable in automatic mode.

Pruitt
The standard M14 yes, but the version that was supposed to be used as the squad automatic rifle was the M15 Squad Automatic Weapon. That weapon performed much better in full auto but was sidelined by the standard M14 because it was too complicated and slow to build, and technically the M14 with a bipod could replace it (just not well at all). This was a logistical decision, due to the problems of M14 production as a whole for all variants, which were a total embarrassment. Not only was it slow and far more costly than originally planned, but quality control was also terrible, and the result was nobody was getting them issued in the numbers originally planned, the roll out was a nightmare. So they decided not to get fancy, and just gave everyone in the squad the same crappy rifle, while canceling production early on and putting all their future plans on either a SPIW or SCHV rifle.
 
Sep 2012
1,022
Tarkington, Texas
#26
Guys, calm down a bit! I have read articles from defense related magazines that said the M249 had issues with accuracy after 600 yards. They also complained that they were not suppressing hostile fire when fired at people on a hill. The magazines also said that a new round was tried that was "hotter" than regular 5.56 rounds to try and fix this. Then we get into Iraq and complaints started to roll in about the M249 was hard to use assaulting buildings, so they shortened the barrel. A shorter barrel degrades accuracy down range.

It baffles me why soldiers are trying to assault rooms carrying an M249 to begin with.

I own an AR 15 and an M1A. Because I am getting older, I am losing some far vision. If I had to fire at 500 yards I would have trouble acquiring a target, let alone delivering accurate fire. During Basic Training we were expected to fire our M 16's out to 500 yards. I was not allowed to do this as I was on crutches from a knee profile. I do remember being told that we would have to "adjust" our targeting to hit out around 500 yards. An Afghan firing from the top of a hill would not be delivering accurate fire, but he could hit people, just maybe not the guys he was aiming at. Firing up the same hill I would expect most of the fire to hit short. It is what it does.

By the way, my DD214 says I qualify for a Marksman Badge.

Pruitt
 
Jul 2016
9,307
USA
#27
Guys, calm down a bit! I have read articles from defense related magazines that said the M249 had issues with accuracy after 600 yards. They also complained that they were not suppressing hostile fire when fired at people on a hill. The magazines also said that a new round was tried that was "hotter" than regular 5.56 rounds to try and fix this. Then we get into Iraq and complaints started to roll in about the M249 was hard to use assaulting buildings, so they shortened the barrel. A shorter barrel degrades accuracy down range.
Shorter barrel usually increased accuracy, as it keeps the barrel stiffer, removing a variable of increased harmonic shift during shots. What it does do that is negative is decrease the velocity of a round. For something like most 5.56 loads, especially the older ones, which were very velocity dependent for lethality, it shortens their theoretical range. However, with a round that has better and more consistent terminal ballistics (on flesh), like the new M855A1 round, or when lethatlity isn't a concern and just putting a bullet into flesh anywhere and however is seen as a victory, then short barrel is still fine for long range, as long as the shooter has the means to make hits.

That means seeing the enemy (magnified optics help). That means having some sort of means to accurately gauge range, for hold overs. That means compensating for wind. That means, above all, shooting from a good position, solid, while following the fundamentals of marksmanship.

The issues come when individuals issued M249 SAW, or the British version, or other 5.56 rifles, have fired either a bare minimum in training at long range, or not at all, and suddenly they are in A-Stan getting into 500-1000 meter long small arms harassing fire engagements. Most don't even know their weapons can still reach out that far. Because who told them? Who showed them? Who sat down with them an explained how area fire works? Nobody, because its just not taught much, if at all, anymore.

It baffles me why soldiers are trying to assault rooms carrying an M249 to begin with.
The Infantry rifle squad's mission is to assault lots of things, including rooms. SAWs are organic to rifle squads, there are two in an Army squad, and used to be three in an Marine squad. So either the SAW gunners wait outside, twiddling their thumbs, allowing their teams and squad to lose integrity and fight under manned, or they have to go with and do everything their fellow rifle squad members do. Which is the problem as a whole of including a LMG (like the M249) or GPMG (FN MAG, M60, MG 42, etc) in the squad at all. Because where the squad goes, the MG has to go too. And do you really want a LMG to clear a room? Or clear a trench? Or to low crawl with? Or climb over a wall? Or from the prone, stand up, sprint a few meters, then sprawl prone again, the famous 3-5 second rush? Because that is the sort of thing that rifle squad guys do. And that is all the stuff that carrying a 20 lb complicated open bolt, belt fed LMG sucks at.

I own an AR 15 and an M1A. Because I am getting older, I am losing some far vision. If I had to fire at 500 yards I would have trouble acquiring a target, let alone delivering accurate fire. During Basic Training we were expected to fire our M 16's out to 500 yards. I was not allowed to do this as I was on crutches from a knee profile. I do remember being told that we would have to "adjust" our targeting to hit out around 500 yards. An Afghan firing from the top of a hill would not be delivering accurate fire, but he could hit people, just maybe not the guys he was aiming at. Firing up the same hill I would expect most of the fire to hit short. It is what it does.
When it comes to rifles, there is point accuracy, aiming at a single target, like a person, and then there is area firing, when just placing rounds on target in a large area, like the side of a hill, or a big open plain, is good enough. To be considered inside the max effective range of a point target, a rifle needs to have the inherent accuracy of putting rounds repeatedly into an 18" circle, which is roughly the width of the human shoulders. If it can't then it cannot reliably hit a person at that range, so its beyond its max effective range on a point target. But a round still has max effective range on area targets, and that is usually when the round still has good lethality, and can still hit a larger area.

What is happening in Afghanistan is the bad guys know our infantry small arm limitations and are primarily using 7.62x54R PKM and RPG-7s and firing them at near Max Effective Range on an Area Target. Its not truly effective fire, its really just harassing. But its fire nonetheless and modern doctrine involves reacting to it and trying to gain fire superiority. But how does that happen when the US and other ISAF forces don't possess the ability to return fire with point accuracy?

Besides the use of GPMG and mortars, infantry is just not really is not taught anymore how to conduct long range area suppressive fire with any squad organic weapon, and like you, most of them never shot past 300 meters. They don't even believe they have the ability to return fire. It would probably come as a shock to them to know that the most popular 1,000 yard service rifle for DCM competition is an AR15 (note, they're using 80 grain bullets or longer, that can't fit in the magazine, but its still 5.56). Because of their ignorance, and they're ego, most don't doubt their own skill set (or lack thereof), thus they want a hardware solution to a software problem.

Which is really an American tradition in the military especially.
 
Likes: Pruitt

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,491
Sydney
#28
I don't know how good you guys shoot but I personally found that hitting a target with an un-scoped rifle on a first shot at 100 m is the best I can do
200 m take a couple at least , if it was an opponent he would have ducked
it get somewhat worst if panting and sweating with the pack on my back
 
May 2019
76
Earth
#29
If I had to use a LMG in the squad/section, I'd want one designed to be use individually, one in 5.56 or using the new hybrid cased 7.62 NATO. The gunner would have a limited ammunition loadout, to ensure they can keep up with the rest of his squad/section. There would be limited/no crossloading of ammo in the rest of the squad/section unless the mission called for an extended base of fire. And the weapon system, unloaded and without accessories, would not weigh any more than 12 lbs.
Sounds like you'd like the Ultimax 100.
 
Jul 2016
9,307
USA
#30
Sounds like you'd like the Ultimax 100.
The older model had the problem of only working with a special magazine, that was chiefly why it wasn't selected even back in the 80s. Either belt fed (which the Army wanted), or STANAG magazine fed (which the Marines wanted).

If a very light weight belt fed design is possible, then I'd prefer that over a magazine fed automatic rifle, as long as it has other positive attributes too. So this is what I'd want:

Knight's Assault Machine Guns at the Range (KAC LAMG)
 

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